Sun Protection and Heat Exhaustion
Protect Baby When in the Sun
First, avoid being in the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and stay in a shaded area as much as possible when outside. Dress baby in a hat, sunglasses, and clothing made with a tight weave. For babies 6 months and older, use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 (SPF 30 and higher is even better) that offers both UVA and UVB protection. For babies younger than 6 months, if adequate shade isn't available, put sunscreen in small amounts on exposed surfaces of skin. Always apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside -- even on cloudy days -- and reapply it every two hours. Even waterproof sunscreen loses its effectiveness after about 80 minutes of swimming.
How to Treat: If your child does get a sunburn, the best remedies are cold compresses, over-the-counter pain relievers, and aloe preparations.
Keep Kids Cool
As temperatures rise, heat exhaustion becomes a concern. Symptoms include fatigue, extreme thirst, and muscle cramping. If a person doesn't cool down and rehydrate herself, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke (signs are headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and lack of sweat), which is potentially fatal.
How to Treat: If you notice heat illnesses in kids, spray them with cold water from a bottle or hose, fan them, and get them into the shade. Ice packs to the groin and armpits can speed up the cooling process even more. If you suspect heatstroke, call 911.
Special Concerns: Infants are vulnerable to heat-related illness, so keep them in air-conditioned areas when possible. And never leave kids in unattended cars, even with the windows cracked.
Use Caution When in Water
Sadly, drowning is among the leading causes of accidental death in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should not enroll children under age 4 in formal swimming lessons that teach water survival skills. If you want them to play in water, supervise them within arm's reach, even in shallow water.
Special Concerns: When choosing a flotation device, go for a child-size life vest. Little arms are less likely to slip out than they are with water wings. And when compared with using a swim ring, there's less chance of tipping over. Also, take a CPR course (find your local American Red Cross chapter at redcross.org) so you'll be prepared in case of a near-drowning incident.